Old Dogs: Are The Best Dogs by Gene Weingarten

 

As dogs become older, there are steps that should be taken to help your aging dog.  Just like people, they will slow down, turn gray, possibly lose some vision and become prone to arthritis.

As a general rule, when dogs turn 7 years or older, they are considered middle to senior in age.  Visits to your vet should become more frequent and getting your vet’s advice on healthy care and maintenance.

Genetically, larger dogs seem to age faster than small dogs, i.e. German Shepherds vs. Poodles.  What also should be noted are various medical issues that arise in different breeds of dogs.  Reading up on and getting professional advice on ailments that might affect your breed of dog is important.  Let’s look at some general conditions that can arise with the aging of your dog.

Hey, You Are Walking Way Too Fast For Me!

Many times, though not always, as dogs age their steps are slower, there might be hesitation or stiffness in their movements.  Arthritis is common in dogs as they age and this could arise subtly over time.  There are many medications available to ease the discomforts of arthritis.  Talk to your vet to get a proper diagnosis and receive the best medications and advice for helping your friend out.

Hypothyroidism can also be a cause for your dog slowing down.  It can be easily diagnosed and treated with proper veterinary care and medications.

Oh My Gosh! I Just Found Another Gray Hair!

Like people, turning gray is common in dogs as they age, it’s usually around their faces and their muzzles.  Although there have been dogs that prematurely turn gray at a young age, usually they will start turning gray around 6 years of age.  This is not a medical situation, just a part of aging.

What Did You Say?

Have you noticed your dog did not respond to you when you spoke to him?  Does he easily startle when you walk up to him from behind?  Maybe it’s harder to wake him up after he’s been sleeping.  A loss in hearing is the cause for this and there is very little that can be done for loss of hearing due to age.

Consult with your vet first to make sure this is not being caused by a medical issue, such as an infection.

If hearing loss is affecting your pup, take steps to protect him from various hazards that he might encounter.  Protect him from being around cars and other people he might not hear coming that could frighten him.

I wrote a post a while back about using hand signals for training dogs.  This would be an idyllic time to start learning and using hand signals.  Your dog will adapt pretty quickly with various commands such as sit and come.

Now is a good time to be sure that he only walks on a leash.  Walking on his own could lead to accidents and bodily harm.  Do not let him out on his own, take him for walks.

Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue

Another sign of dog aging are their eyes baking on a bluish transparent cloudy appearance in their pupil area.  The medical term for this is lenticular sclerosis.  This does not seem to affect their vision unlike Cataracts which are white and opaque and does affect their vision.

Always consult with your vet with any concerns and get your dog checked out to find out which condition in vision your dog might be experiencing.

A Trip to the Gym Ain’t Gonna Cut It!

Muscle atrophy is a mild loss of muscle mass, mainly in the hind quarters.  This will also slow down your pups speed in daily walks.  If you observe muscle loss around the head or stomach, this is probably a sign of disease – get your pup checked out by your vet for a diagnosis.

Helping Your Aging Dog will give you some good suggestions and advice in helping your dog enter his or her golden years.

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